Juno

"Excellent"

Juno Review


Ellen Page plays a quirky teenager in Jason Reitman's Juno but she does so in a way I've rarely witnessed before. She's not rebelling from medication like Natalie Portman in Garden State, nor is she just a normal, shy girl who is externally quirky like Tina Majorino in Napoleon Dynamite. Her peculiarities aren't her definition like Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club, and she's not flippantly cute and brazenly poetic like Zooey Deschanel in Paul Gordon Green's All the Real Girls. Page's Juno MacGuff certainly has hints of all these characters, but what we witness of her comes from somewhere far off-screen. Remarkably, the world we're watching doesn't revolve around her.

When this Argento-loving firecracker gets knocked up by Paulie Bleeker (the invaluable Michael Cera), her rhythms don't change much; a big cookie consumed simultaneously with a lamb kebob seems like something she'd eat even if her hormones weren't all akimbo. After chatting up an ex-pill popper/current pro-lifer, her attempts to procure an abortion are thwarted by the thought of her baby's tapping fingernails and the sterilized miasma of the clinic's waiting room. Hastily, she opts for an old-fashioned, at-birth adoption with no frills. Her parents, played lovingly by J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney, are concerned but surprisingly level-headed, even if they wished she had just gotten a DUI instead of getting knocked up.

The mother-to-be finds the ideal parents-to-be in the local Pennysaver paper, charmed by the legitimacy of their picture. (They didn't use a fake background.) The adoptive mother, Vanessa Loring (Jennifer Garner), says she feels like she was born to be a mother but her husband Mark (Jason Bateman) shows hesitancy from the first "sure." They act happy but he digs Sonic Youth, Herschell Gordon Lewis, and his cherry Les Paul while she tries to explain the importance of a Pilates machine to Juno's father.

Not surprisingly, Reitman showed the same cavalier adeptness to comedy as his father in last year's grossly overrated Thank You for Smoking though he showed little else as a filmmaker. Second time's a charm: maybe it's Diablo Cody's witty and honest script, or maybe it's just momentum, but Reitman feels more mature and assured of his assets in Juno than even Smoking's most ardent fans could have anticipated. Considering his genes, it comes as a particular shock how he works with actors and how he gets them to hit notes that seem to be otherwise unreachable by the cast.

Reitman's new abilities are never more apparent than when Juno finds out that the Lorings might be divorcing and that Paulie has chosen to go to prom with a girl who smells like soup. One might think a girl who refers to penises as "pork swords" and listens to Patti Smith and Iggy Pop exclusively would be able to handle these blows, but it's no slice of meringue. Cera has a natural earnestness when he tells Juno that she's being unfair and immature, but when Page says "I'm a planet," you can feel the weight of the room shift.

From the outset, Page all but merges with Juno, and her punchy one-liners and peculiar contortions really come from her gut rather than a typed page. By the time our heroine's water breaks, Reitman has transformed her early idiosyncrasies into an eccentric but sincere tenderness that radiates in the cast. Janney, donning wonderfully cheesy sweaters throughout, delivers the most heartfelt of Cody's lines when answering how Garner looks with her baby: "Like a new mom: scared shitless."

The fact that Juno goes for adoption rather than the other "a" has caused a few critics to cast the film as a conservatives-go-hip ploy. That doesn't fly for me: Almost every character exudes notably blue-state warmth, and though the American family is seen as a dilapidated structure, it's whole-heartedly embraced for its flaws without a hint of chastisement. But sometimes these films don't have to be about the "right" and "wrong" attitudes towards dubious issues nor even about what agenda the helmer may or may not be after. Sometimes they are simply about finding the right cheese for your macaroni.

It's a girl.



Juno

Facts and Figures

Run time: 96 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 25th December 2007

Box Office USA: $143.4M

Box Office Worldwide: $231.4M

Budget: $7.5M

Distributed by: Fox Searchlight

Production compaines: Mandate Pictures, Fox Searchlight Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 94%
Fresh: 193 Rotten: 12

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: , , , Mason Novick

Starring: as Juno MacGuff, as Paulie Bleeker, as Vanessa Loring, as Mark Loring, as Bren MacGuff, J.K. Simmons as Mac MacGuff, as Leah, as Gerta Rauss, as Rollo, Daniel Clark as Steve Rendazo, as Girl Lab Partner, Aman Johal as Vijay, Eve Harlow as Tough Girl, as Su-Chin, as Punk Receptionist

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Office Christmas Party Movie Review

Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman reunite with The Switch directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck...

Snowden Movie Review

Snowden Movie Review

Here's another remarkable biopic from Oliver Stone, who has used all-star casts and intensely pointed...

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

The Birth of a Nation Movie Review

This true story from 19th century America feels eerily relevant today in its depiction of...

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Advertisement
Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.